Rapidly evaluate ideas and issues in business meetings and focus groups

Ranking mode

Ranking mode is used to obtain first, second etc. preferences from a list of options. For example, the order in which possible activities should be done.

The purpose of the Ranking facility

The ranking facility in Impact Explorer™ is, like the voting facility, a means of obtaining information about individuals’ opinions on the issues under discussion. However, the ranking tool is used for obtaining preferences in the sense of, for example, first, second and third choices.

Again, to generate the list of issues that you will be considering, you can either select concepts from a Decision Explorer® or enter a list directly into Impact Explorer™ (either manually or by loading information from a text file). You then specify the number of repeats that you will cycle through. For example, two cycles will give prompt for first and second choices, while three cycles gives you first, second and third choices, and so on.

Having set the number of cycles of ranking, the keypads are then used to gather opinions. Again, as with voting, at the end of the ranking session a graph is displayed which shows the distribution of opinion.

The ranking facility is used to:

  • Narrow down a broad range of options to a “chosen few”
  • Set priorities for discussion or action
  • Allow a broader choice than a straightforward single candidate vote
  • Identify overall “winners” based on a combined result

In use

The ranking mode is started using the Activity Wizard, and configured using the page shown here.

Configuration is quite simple – just select the number of preferences that people are to express. In general this should be only a few – since people have to remember which options they have already chosen, and with more than 3 or 4 preferences remembering previous choices can be difficult. You can choose from 1 to 5 preferences.

Once you have your preference count set, you click Next to choose how the results graphs are to be shown.

The default is to show the results graph after each element has been assessed, which allows for immediate discussion of the results. It depends on the purpose of your workshop whether or not you choose to show the results graphs immediately. It is obviously faster not to show the results graphs as you go, but to go straight into the next question. If you choose this, you can either show the graphs at the end of the whole activity, or not at all.

Agenda preparation

The activity wizard is very quick to use, and therefore ideal for informal workshops and impromptu meetings, but you can also create a full agenda for a meeting, preparing all the options in advance. Such agendas allow you to quickly load and activate a meeting, and you can save them as templates for repeated use. Of course you can also use impromptu activities in pre-prepared workshops too.


The voting itself is done using a large-font display. The options that the participants can choose are also displayed large. Note that the toolbar is hidden during the ranking, to avoid distractions.

The bottom of the window shows the number of participants still to respond. Once all the rankings have been cast, the display will change according to the graph options selected in the wizard (see above).

Results graph

The form of the display of the results graph for voting is quite flexible, allowing a number of different display styles. You can optionally display a summary display which normally will show a sum of (1 x all first rank votes) + (1/2 x all second rank votes) + (1/3 x all third rank votes) etc. but which can be completely customised for alternative formulae.

The preferences graph can only be displayed vertically due to the summary display requirement, but the elements can be displayed as rectangles or cylinders, with a variety of attractive designs. The bars/pie-slices can have a variety of labeling, and the background can be configured to be plain or gradient colored. If you wish to show a corporate logo, or custom background, then you can load an image file. Finally you can choose a 2D or 3D display. All of the options are remembered between uses, so once you have it configured as you like, you can keep it that way.

Meeting review

As with all of the data in Impact Explorer™, the software automatically saves the results graphs to disk as you go, and records the meeting information at the same time. This means that you can be assured that your results are safe on disk, and also that you can review the meeting (or restart it later) for report generation. An export to Microsoft Word® is available to save you typing the basic meeting details in, and can include the full results as well as the pictures generated.